our coaches

Coaching is a process that encourages learning and development to occur while improving performance.  Successful coaching requires a knowledge and understanding of processes and progressions through the variety of styles, skills, and techniques that are appropriate and specific to each athlete, as well as an awareness of the coaching environment.

The coaches of CrossFit Charleston Eat, Sleep, Breath, and Live...CROSSFIT. Its our passion, its our lifestyle and we love taking others on the journey with us. As coaches of CrossFit Charleston we put ourselves second to every other athlete in the "Box" as we strive to create an environment, where we help YOU achieve YOUR goals. We are serious, we are "no nonsense", we push hard, and we don't take breaks...but we are fun, we are encouraging, and amongst all, we are committed to you!! 

Joshua Hartzell
Owner & Coach


Professional Credentials

  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified (2009)
  • CrossFit Level 2 Certified (2017)
  • CrossFit Kids Certified (2017)
  • CrossFit Endurance Certified (2010)
  • CrossFit Defense Certified (2012)
  • Cooper Institute Personal Trainer (2007)
  • Nationally Certified EMT "First Responder" (re-cert 2016)
  • 8+ Years CrossFit experience

Personal Background

Josh is a former active duty military veteran, private security specialist, and police officer. He currently works as a Law Enforcement Instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center training the United States Coast Guard through their Maritime Enforcement division. Through 14 years of training and experience in providing executive dignitary protection, public service, and instruction, Josh had to keep himself in the most top physical condition.  By doing so, Josh found his passion for training and competing in anything and everything related to fitness.  Once out of active duty in 2008, Josh quickly found his way into CrossFit.  Josh received his Level 1 CrossFit certification in March 2009 and soon found himself as a level 1 CrossFit instructor at CrossFit Charleston. Since then through dedication and relentless pursuit filled with passion, Josh has strived to solidify his foundation in training and coaching in every different fitness modality known to man, in order to help any person young or old in any level of fitness with one goal in mind, to help one achieve a higher statue of life rather that be inside the gym or out!

“CrossFit has truly helped me change my life. More so, CrossFit has made me fearless in conquering the challenges that arise in my life. Its a "bullet-proof" mindset. My hope is to help our athletes feel that same confidence.”

Mike Dawley


Professional Credentials

  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified 
  • 5+ years of CrossFit experience

Personal Background

Coach "Dawley" has loved and participated in sports his entire life. Born and raised in Charleston,has always appreciated physical fitness and what it takes to achieve goals inside and outside of the box. His love and knowledge of fitness have been cultivated since 2012 at CrossFit Charleston and that learning and love only continues to grow.

Dawley has found that motivating people and helping them go beyond their self-perceived limitations is something that he is passionate about doing.

“I was fortunate enough to be brought into this Crossfit Charleston family over 4 years ago – it has truly changed and shaped my life in a way I can’t express in words. The fire was ignited the first time I stepped in those doors and it burns brighter today. I’m here to share knowledge, hard work, laughter and love because that is what Crossfit Charleston has given me.” 

Ulrike "Flip" Mersch
Assistant Coach

Professional Credentials

  • CrossFit Level 1 Certified (2013)
  • WITS Personal Trainer Certified (2009)
  • 4+ years CrossFit experience

Personal Background

Sports have always played a big role during in Flip's life. At the age of 4 she started as a little gymnast, then later in High School She became was very active in Track and Field.

Once Flip moved to the US from Germany, she decided to follow her passion in sport and became a Personal Trainer in 2009. It was soon after that she discovered CrossFit, and loved it so much that she decided to get my CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certification. While Flip loves to coach, she is also a dedicated CrossFit competitor.

"I try to better my fitness everyday and challenge myself by competing in any and all CrossFit Competitions year round. I constantly look to set my goals high and love the challenges that CrossFit brings to my overall fitness."

Flips passion for training and competing however is second to her passion for coaching! She loves to help everyone that she can. She really likes working with all athletes and helping them reach their goals by empowering and guiding them in the right direction!

Chris Armstrong
Assistant Coach


Professional Credentials

  • CrossFit Level 1 (2015)
  • 2+ year of CrossFit experience 

Personal Background

Chris is a local Charleston resident of 28 years. He grew up never getting involved with organized sports but rather did hobbies such as surfing and skateboarding. After graduating high school, he sought out a program that would let him cope with the stresses of college. He tried competitive running, however, he lacked a strength component in his conditioning. He came across “boot camp” fitness and also tried mixed martial arts, however, he found that neither was still enough. It wasn’t until he found CrossFit that he had knew that he no longer needed to search any longer. 

“I remember my first CrossFit workout as if it were yesterday, 3 rounds of 400 meter run, 10 pull ups, 10 air squats, 10 push ups, 10 sit ups and 10 wall balls. It completely decimated me. I thought I was in shape but I was very wrong and I realized that I finally found what I was looking for with the intensity and variety of stimulus. I was hooked and I have not looked back since.” 

Chris is extremely passionate about CrossFit because he is a firm believer that this type of exercise prepares one for any and all of life’s challenges. CrossFit not only makes one a physically stronger person but it makes them mentally stronger as well. “Animus Sanus In Corpore Sano" the latin phrase means,

“A sound mind in a sound body.”  

This is literally my motivation and why I choose to become a coach for what I to help all athletes become stronger both mentally and physically.

Kelly Stratoti
Assistant Coach


Professional Credentials

  • BS in Athletic Training
  • MA in Instructional Leadership in Education
  • Certified Athletic Trainer since 2009
  • Crossfit Level 1 (2016)
  • USA Weightlifting (2016)
  • USAW Level 2 Certified

Personal Background

A Philadelphia native, Kelly made her way down to South Carolina by playing golf and running track at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. After graduation, she worked as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN. After graduation in 2009, she came to Charleston and accepted a position at Goose Creek High School. She is the Assistant Athletic Trainer for all athletics and teaches sports medicine classes. Kelly found Crossfit in 2013. It filled a competitive edge that she missed from collegiate athletics. When she isn't working you can find her at the box!

"Make your weaknesses your strengths and be unstoppable"

Tristan Vogler
Assistant Coach

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Professional Credentials

  • Crossfit Level 1 (May 2017)

Personal Background

Tristan discovered CrossFit after finishing grad school when he had finished training for some races and was tired of running and wanted something new. A friend recommended CrossFit to Tristan because she thought the competitive aspect of the workouts would appeal to him. As a math nerd, he loved how much data there was in it. He could immediately see how he stacked up against the people in his gym and track if or by how much he was improving. Trying to be better than he was the day, week, or month before was and continues to be a driving factor in his training. What keeps him in CrossFit is the community. 

“I've never been a part of another community or sport that was simultaneously so competitive and uplifting at the exact same time. You can be fighting to beat someone one minute and then yelling and rooting them on the next. It's absolutely amazing.”

Tristan’s passion for coaching comes from a lifelong love of knowledge and learning. Despite finding a career in software development, he knew he wanted to become a teacher or professor. He always sought out ways he could help others around him. Eventually, he was asked if he wanted to coach at a CrossFit box and jumped at the chance. Now he is able to do two things he loves at the same time: throw down with an awesome community of amazing, driven, and talented athletes and be a part of their growth into more awesome humans.

Cassidy Davidson
Assistant Coach

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Professional Credentials

  • Crossfit Level 1

Personal Background

Born in Georgia, Cassidy spent the majority of her childhood participating in sports. She made her way to Charleston in 2017, where she is currently a student at the Charleston School of Law. Before moving to Charleston, she completed her undergraduate degree at Clemson University. While at Clemson, Cassidy was a member of the D1 Women's Rowing Team. She's experienced firsthand what it takes to break a person down in order to build up an athlete. She has 5+ years of CrossFit experience and has coached at multiple gyms across the southeast. 

 "To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail." - Michael Jordan

Andrew Butler
Assistant Coach


Professional Credentials

  • CrossFit Level 1 Certificate holder (July 2015)
  • Testing seminar for the CrossFit Workshop: Flexibility
  • Olympic weightlifting seminar with Jim Schmitz
  • 5+ years of CrossFit experience

Personal Background

Andrew grew up very physically active in a suburb just outside of Cleveland, OH. In high school, he played soccer, wrestled, swam, and ran track. Andrew was a state qualifier in the pole-vault and went on to compete in NCAA Division III Track and Field where he achieved All-Conference honors in the pole-vault. Andrew obtained his undergraduate degree at Muskingum University, New Concord, OH and went on to join the Marine Corps in 2007.  In 2013, Andrew became involved in CrossFit while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2014, Andrew left active duty in pursuit of a law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, which he has since achieved. During that time, Andrew worked for CrossFit, Inc. in the Southern California office as a Legal Clerk under the direction of CrossFit’s General Counsel. 

Andrew is currently in the Marine Corps Reserves. He enjoys surfing, coffee, and CrossFit. Additionally, his favorite things to coach are any gymnastics movement and most Oly lifts. Finally, as a gentleman of shorter stature, he finds that wall balls and rowing are a struggle and therefore are his least favorite movements; that said, he should work on his weaknesses.  

“The magic is in the movement, the art is in the programming, the science is in the explanation, and the fun is in the community.” - Greg Glassman
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott